Poem on St. Catherine of Siena

“To set the world on fire,

The soul rising up to God

Needs to proclaim the Lord’s Truth,

And not be silent through fear.

Without God’s great endurance,

Nothing worthy can be done.

For Love as Virtue is fire—

Hungered for, nourishing life—

To work the wonders of God

Among His priceless people.

God’s all comes from Virtue Love

To save us through His Certain,

Victorious Forgiveness.

Love Uncreated prospers

In Man’s Soul; the Soul, In Him.

For His Beloved Servants,

Every place is the right place;

And every time, the right time

To give such pleasing wisdom,

To see the Life of His Grace,

And lean against Christ Crossèd.

Father, give these Souls Yourself;

Let them be whom You Have Made

So they may set all ablaze.”

All these were her prayers and words

For her beloved brethren;

To the Heavenly Bridegroom,

And His weak but chosen Bride.

Her faith staved off the maelstrom,

Her hope kept the sails aloft,

Her love helped preserve His Ship.

O Lovely Caterina,

Always pray for us, His Ship;

By the Angels’ Orchestra,

His Saints’ Heavenly Chorus,

And Our Church’s Passing Song—

May your name be ever blest.

Lord, may it be so. Amen.

—In May Two-Thousand Thirteen

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Welcome, Papa Francesco!

My dear readers,

Viva il papa – Papa Francesco! Today, the cardinals of the Catholic Church elected Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina to be the next pope.

I was planning to post my musing on the Holy Spirit today; but in lieu of that, I would like to encourage everyone to read my previous musing on Pope Benedict and his successor (Pope Francis I)!

Again, my apologies to my non-Catholic readers, but today the world has experienced such great joy and prayer that I believe it transcends religious differences. So, let us rejoice in the Lord and those shepherds whom He has chosen to lead us!

Let us pray for all of our religious leaders today (especially our new Pope, Francis I!) I shall pray for your ‘shepherds,’ ministers and pastors, as I ask that you please pray for mine.

And, please check back here tomorrow for the musing on the Holy Spirit! I promise I will post it.

Thank you, and I am praying for you all!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.

First of all I would say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him...

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood . My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will

Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me. We will see one another soon. Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.

Good night and sleep well!

–Pope Francis I (Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio), March 13, 2013

Musing on the Holy Father & His Successor

March 13 Update: Welcome to our new Holy Father, Pope Francis I!

He succeeds Pope Benedict XVI (and St. Peter) as Pope and Bishop of Rome!

Author’s Note: I realize that not all of you dear readers are Catholic, but the current situation with the Catholic Church’s Pope is a very interesting and bemusing one, even if you are not Catholic. So, with that being said, I hope you enjoy the post. (The following was written on Feb. 28, 2013, as Pope Benedict was resigning from the Papal office.)

A Musing on the Holy Father and His Successor

Today, as I write this, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is resigning the office of the Papacy – a move that is unprecedented in the modern era.

A few weeks ago, when the Holy Father announced his intention to resign, the faithful had many questions, as a pope’s resignation hasn’t been seen in 700 years or so.

“What do we call Pope Benedict once he resigns? Where will he live? What will he do? How are we supposed to address him, if we were to meet him?”

Pope Benedict has answered these questions, but there is one uncertaintly that has yet to be addressed (and cannot be addressed for some time):

Who will be the Pope’s successor, and what will the relationship be between the two popes?

The Pope’s successor will be elected, hopefully, before Easter by the conclave of cardinals. But, as mentioned above, the relationship between the Holy Father and the Pope emeritus is a relative unknown.

As I was thinking about this earlier today, I remembered a line from the movie The King’s Speech, which portrays Britain’s King George VI’s rise to the British throne after his brother, King Edward, abdicated. In the movie, King George (portrayed by Colin Firth) says:

“Every monarch in history has succeeded someone who is dead. Or just about to be. My predecessor’s not only alive, but very much so.”

Although Pope Benedict has resigned due to his failing health and “advanced age,” his successor will – similar to King George – take the papal throne (the Chair of St. Peter) while his predecessor still lives, God willing.

The Holy Father has pledged his obedience to whomever succeeds him, but what about the new Pope’s relationship with his still-living predecessor?

Will the new Holy Father reach out to our Pope Emeritus? Will he ask Benedict for advice? For counsel about the papacy?

There are probably many things a pope wishes he could have asked his predecessor about, but in most cases, his predecessor was dead. Odds are, the cardinal who will succeed the Holy Father already knows Pope Benedict. But, surely, there are things our new pope will want to ask the pope emeritus.

But, the best precedent I could find for this in the Scriptures was the relationship between Elijah and Elisha.

In 2 Kings 2, when Elijah is making his preparations before being swept up into Heaven, he asks Elisha three times to remain behind and allow him to leave. “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”

The sons of the prophets who were (there) approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.” –2 Kings 2: 3 & 5

Before Elijah leaves, he asks Elisha Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” Then, Elijah is taken up, and Elisha inherits Elijah’s spirit, which the people acknowledge.

Elisha shows his obedience to his master Elijah; he refuses to leave him and follows him until he is taken up by the chariot and the whirlwind.

Elijah, in return, shows his obedience to his successor, asking if there is anything Elisha will need from him before they part.

They acknowledge each other’s office and duties as a prophet of Israel – with Elisha knowing his place as the under-study (as it were) to his master and “father” Elijah, who in turn, recognizes that his work is completed and wants to help the new prophet in his duties. In essence, Elijah, by taking his leave of Elisha, acknowledges him as his successor.

While the situation between the new Holy Father and the pope emeritus will be different than that between Elijah and Elisha, they will share a mutual respect and obedience for one another.

Benedict has and will continue to acknowledge whomever succeeds him as the pope – the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter.

But, in turn, Benedict’s successor will show his loyalty, respect, and obedience to his predecessor, and will recognize that he succeeds not only Peter, but Benedict.

He should savor the time he can spend with his predecessor, as Elisha did with Elijah. The new Holy Father will know that, when God wills it, Benedict will be taken from this life.

But, our future pope must be still and treasure this time with his predecessor by following him and learning from him – taking up his mantle, as Elisha did for Elijah.

And, when he is elected, our new Holy Father will fill the office and seat of, not only Benedict, but every Pope who has preceded him – ultimately to Peter who was commissioned by Christ Himself.

So, I pray for our new Holy Father, that he will realize that his predecessors – and the lessons they have taught and will teach him – are precious because they ultimately connect him to Jesus Christ, the Head and Bridegroom of the Church.

For the mantle of Christ is the one every Pope must take up. He is the God-Made-Man Whom each of them must succeed, as the Head of the Church of Christ here on Earth.

Essay on Bl. JP2’s Vocation Story

Author’s Note: This essay was written in 2009 as part of a school assignment.

God’s Windmill

Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Counsel so as to “open the window and let the fresh air reinvigorate the Catholic Church.” Oftentimes in the Bible, God’s spirit is represented as a strong wind, like at Pentecost.

Many individuals have answered God’s call thanks to His strong push: Peter and the Apostles, the early martyrs, and even present-day saints like Fr. Emil Kapaun and Blessed Mother Teresa. Among them who answered God’s call was Karol Wojtyla or, as he later became known, Pope John Paul II. He became a windmill for God’s will to direct towards the great leader that he would become.

As a young man, Karol Wojtyla grew up in a devout Catholic family. He served as an altar server nearly every day, but he took great pleasure in acting and performing on the stage. His natural charisma drew him towards the stage, but at the same time, he wanted to help others.

This preference of selflessness was a working of God’s Will, and Wojtyla had a great than usual inclination towards God. When he was about to move to Krakow to attend college, his parish priest told him that he should consider the priesthood. Although he had a great love for the theater, Wojtyla also had great charisma and deep insights into philosophy.

When the Nazis occupied Poland, Wojtyla had to make very important decisions. He decided to help Jews escape from Krakow, and thus grew in self-knowledge. He came to Mass everyday and was invited to join an illegal rosary circle by his mentor. Through his meditation, Wojtyla grew unsatisfied with earthly existence and yearned for something more.

He saw quickly the evil surrounding his beloved countrymen and desired to do something to give them hope, to help them survive. He became open to God’s call.
While he was working in the quarry under the Nazis, he became romantically involved with a female friend. They both considered marriage, but Wojtyla was unsatisfied with this idea, and did not feel called to become a husband and father. His prayers became even more intense, with the passing of his father and an increase of violence in Poland.

Over time, Wojtyla became persuaded to the celibate lifestyle. He did not feel called to be a husband, but wished to serve God. Yet, at the same time, he desperately wanted to be an actor. One night, on his way home from work, a truck hit Wojtyla and this further opened his eyes to what he was called to be. Yet, the clearer his vocation became, the more fervent his desire to act grew. “I want to be an actor,” he told his father. Nevertheless, the Nazi regime grew stricter, and universities and theaters were shut down. Any Polish work – literature, poetry, play, art, etc. – was forbidden.

The passing of his father became further confirmation to Wojtyla that he was to join the priesthood. Finally, Wojtyla approached the Bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Sapieha, in 1942. The cardinal questioned his motive in asking to join the seminary. “Wouldn’t you want to pursue your interests,” the cardinal asked Wojtyla. “I would be pursuing my interests,” the young man answered him. And with that, Karol Wojtyla entered the seminary.

During his study at the “underground seminary” run by the cardinal, Wojtyla led a group of Polish people in a chant of their national anthem. This sparked a slew of arrests by the governing Communist regime of the U.S.S.R. This brought into question Wojtyla’s sound motivation: was he doing this to lead others against the Communists or was he truly following God’s will? Wojtyla answered with complete obedience and a willingness to serve others, especially after the Nazis left Poland decimated. Certainly, Wojtyla had the capability to become. He had charisma, a love of virtue, a deep insight of God’s law, and a willingness to serve those in need.

These abilities led Karol Wojtyla to become a man of action, a man of discernment. He helped his fellow seminarians clean up the university, and tried to persuade others from starting a violent revolution against the Communists. He once again reflected that same young man that helped his university professor and his Jewish friends escape from the Nazis. He realized that there was a peaceful of fighting against the Communists, that it dwelt in the youth, and that he must give Poland a reason to hope.

Karol Wojtyla would accomplish all of these things. He would give Poland a reason to hope. He would guide the youth away from worldly desires and towards the eternal rewards that God alone offered. He would be instrumental in bringing about an end to Communism in Eastern Europe. In addition to all of that, Karol Wojtyla would help teach the nations of the world solidarity and patriotism, the way God viewed it. And on top of all that, he became a light to the nations as one of the most beloved Pontiffs of all time. Who would have thought that this would-be actor would one day bring down the Iron Curtain and become a guiding star to God’s Eternal Paradise?